Heathrow has posted strong results for April but continued to warn about the uncertainties that loom ahead.
The London hub reported that 5 million passengers travelled through its terminals in April, with outbound leisure travel driving demand and prompting the airport to increase its passenger forecast for the year by 16 per cent.
Commenting on the results, travel expert Rob Staines said: “Heathrow’s passenger figures are a clear indication that demand remains strong and continues to grow.
“These figures and future projections are extremely encouraging and representative of a positive path to recovery.”
Despite the results, the airport warned that a combination of the war in Ukraine, higher fuel and inflation rates as well as Covid restrictions in key markets such as the US will continued to create uncertainty.
“We all want to see travel get back to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible, and while I am encouraged by the rise in passenger numbers, we also have to be realistic,” said chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
Holland-Kaye’s comments come a few days after the airport’s quarterly results, where Heathrow said losses would exceed £4bn and that it would not return to profitability and dividends until the end of the year.
“We are still in a pandemic with many markets still closed, nearly 80% with testing and vaccination requirements and another variant of concern could see the return of UK travel restrictions,” a company spokesperson said on 26 April.
Just last week, Heathrow’s biggest airline customer, British Airways, announced it was expecting to return to 74 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The results also come as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is finalising the details of Heathrow’s airport charge.
“There are significant challenges ahead – the regulator can either plan for them with a robust and adaptable regulatory settlement that delivers for passengers and withstands any shocks, or they can prioritise airline profits by cutting back on passenger service leaving the industry to scramble when things go wrong in future,” Holland-Kaye added today.
Over the past few months, Heathrow has been at odds with both the CAA and airlines after the CAA set the interim price cap the hub can charge its airline customers to £30.19, City A.M. reported.
Both the airport and airlines accused the CAA of stunting their respective growth and doing favours to the other side.
According to City A.M. calculations, Heathrow would make £2.3bn if prices were set at £43 per person, but instead is expected to gain £1.6bn from the current interim cap.